OAKLAND — The Angels’ 2-1, 10-inning loss to the Oakland A’s on Tuesday night began with a couple of former Cal State Fullerton players sharing a hug on the mound.
One was ending his career, and one was making a final statement to continue next year with the Angels.
Catcher Kurt Suzuki caught Michael Lorenzen’s first pitch of the night, and then Suzuki was joined by his teammates on the mound for hugs as he said goodbye to a 16-year career in the majors. The Angels pulled Suzuki after one pitch, allowing him to go out with a poignant moment in the ballpark where he broke into the big leagues in 2007.
“That was a pretty special moment, walking on the field for the last time, caught my last pitch,” Suzuki said. “Kinda crazy. It hasn’t really set in yet.”
Once the ceremonial portion of the night was over, Lorenzen pitched six scoreless innings, finishing off his first season as a starting pitcher. Lorenzen had a 4.24 ERA in 18 starts.
He ended up with no decision. Ryan Tepera walked Shea Langeliers with the bases loaded in the 10th to end it. The Angels had just seven hits, none for Shohei Ohtani, whose 18-game hitting streak ended.
As for Lorenzen, the Orange County native has said repeatedly that he wants to return to the Angels as a starter again next year. After signing a one-year deal last winter, he is about to become a free agent.
“It’s been awesome,” Lorenzen said. “It’s been a dream come true. I really just want to see the Angels be successful. I want to be a part of that. I think it would be even more of a dream come true to be a part of that.”
Manager Phil Nevin acknowledged some difficulties Lorenzen had in his first year – including an injury that cost him two months – but said he was pleased with his performance.
“Flashes of greatness,” Nevin said. “He’s been pretty consistent, to be honest with you, when he’s been healthy. I like what I’ve seen. What does that mean for us going forward? I don’t know. Those are things we’ll talk about in the offseason.”
Lorenzen gave up 10 earned runs in six innings in the two starts he made while dealing with shoulder trouble. He had a 3.83 ERA in his other 16 starts. Lorenzen said he considered his two-month stint on the injured list to be a “mini offseason” to make some adjustments, and he had a 2.36 ERA in five starts after that.
“I really like the adjustments that I made paid off,” Lorenzen said. “I’m going to take that feedback and I’ll be able to just stay on track really during the offseason. So it gets me going in the offseason with kind of a clear head and knowing exactly what I needed to do.”
While there’s a chance that Lorenzen is back next year, Suzuki is finished.
The veteran catcher said a couple of weeks ago that this would be it, and coincidentally his final game was on his 39th birthday, and in Oakland.
Nevin orchestrated the moment for Suzuki, allowing his teammates and the A’s fans to recognize him for a career that included a World Series title and an All-Star appearance.
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After catching Lorenzen’s first pitch, Suzuki tucked the ball into his back pocket as Nevin called time and walked to the mound, as if to make a pitching change. This was a catching change, though. Max Stassi entered, and Suzuki left.
As Suzuki hugged his teammates, players in both dugouts and the thousands of fans in the stands gave him a standing ovation.
“I’m not Albert Pujols or Yadi Molina or something like that,” Suzuki said. “To get that kind of ovation, respect, type of thing, it means the world to me. It’s a very special moment. This place in Oakland is a very special place for me. This is where it all started. I grew up here as a baseball player. To finish here was pretty cool.”
Suzuki waved to the dugouts and to his family in the stands, walking off the field for the final time as a major leaguer.
“Just a true professional,” Angels star Mike Trout said before the game. “I got to play with him the last couple of years. I’ve never really seen him mad. Always brought that smile. Always brought that energy. Just an unbelievable teammate. A lot of people don’t see it, because they’re not in the clubhouse, but what he brings to the clubhouse, what he means to the younger guys, the young catchers, even myself. Just seeing how he handles himself and brings that energy and positivity to a ball club, you can’t teach that.”
— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) October 5, 2022